Insects


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Fire ants are among the worst insect pests ever to invade the United States. Originally from South America, they are red or yellowish ants on the small size, but with a severe sting that burns like fire. One man who stumbled into a fire ant nest describes the excruciating pain as similar to being doused with gasoline and set on fire.

Fire ants normally feed on small insects. As the populations become denser, they devour seeds and seedling plants. Their most notorious damage is done to grain and vegetable crops. They invade household kitchens and pantries. They attack newly hatched poultry and the young of ground-nesting wild birds. Helpless newborn domestic and wild animals have been killed by swarms of the worker ants.

One expert on fire ants says that the ants don't actually eat the food they bring back. Rather the adults feed it to the larvae, which, in turn, secrete a liquid that the adults (including the queen) then eat. This may be the reaseon poison baits are ineffectual.

Each colony of fire ants is composed of a queen (although nests are being found now with several queens), winged males and females, and three kinds of workers. The queen can live as long as seven years and lays over a thousand eggs a day. A single nest averages approximately 25,000 workers, but far larger populations are common. The semi-permanent nests are large mounds of excavated soil with openings for ventilation and can be up to four feet deep. Since nests may number from 50 to more than 100 in a heavily infested field, plowing and cultivating become difficult or impossible.

Fire ants have invaded utility padmounted equipment all across the South. On some systems, fire ants have become a serious problem, causing outages and putting maintenance and repair crews at risk. How to control this pest without destroying desirable forms of wildlife is a subject of intensive research. Be sure to check the "Case Studies" for an update on what's being done.

Fire ants are not the only insects that cause problems on utility systems. In the South, there are certain tiny flying insects, sometimes called midges, that are attracted to the bushings on overhead equipment. We don't know exactly why, but swarms of midges will completely cover the bushings. But, probably the most common problem with insects swarming around utility equipment are the birds, bats, frogs, and lizards that come to feed on them. Check the "Bulletin Board", we have a question on this.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
If you would like some help in designing and implementing a comprehensive program for getting your animal-caused outages under control, drop us a line. Don't forget to check the Bulletin Board. If you don't see anything there to help, leave a questionand we'll post it. Be sure to check the Product Catalog to see what commercial products are available


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